90% Done, 75% to Go!

When it comes to closing a renovation project, that old saying holds true: the devil is in the details. It’s a time when having logged your 10,000 hours counts, and we’ve even coined a phrase for it: “90% done, 75% to go.” Because while the big, fancy and expensive pieces are installed and complete, there is still a large pile of teeny, tiny details to get done. It’s these details — the last 75% — that make your project look finished.

Here is a snap of some of the things that still need to be installed at this small, whole-house renovation we’re doing for the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The house is in a nice neighborhood in the city’s East Mount Airy section. It’s not a fancy project, but the details still count.

The plumbing and electrical work must be “trimmed out.” This is when the shiny bits and pieces are installed. The sinks, faucets, toilets, must be installed “plumb level square” and tested. Switch plate covers and outlet plates need to go in, and they must also be plumb. Nothing makes a project look bad like crooked plates can. Everything is left clean, too. No fingerprints.

Even if we are only doing a paint job in a room, it gets new plates. They make it look finished and cost about 50 cents each. We also put new escutcheons at the radiator pipes coming through the floor. Again, for a few cents, they make a big impact.

We restored the old spruce doors in this house. After painting, all of the original plates and knobs have to be re-installed. Where we have no originals, we have to find some new pieces that work with the old.

Thresholds need to go in, as do new knobs, and other new hardware, like bathroom accessories. Final steps include small bits of trim, paint touch ups, and a final cleaning inside and out as we work our way out the door. Then, all of the important documents of the project, like owners manuals, warrantees and permits, are collected and given to the homeowners.

90% done, 75% to go. It takes many years to learn how to handle this kind of detailing well and efficiently.